Monday

25th Jan 2021

Iraq plans EU-style Middle East union

Iraq has unveiled plans for the creation of a regional economic and security union for the Middle East explicitly modelled on the European Union.

Official government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh announced the proposal on Tuesday (9 December) in Washington at the Institute of Peace, a US government-linked think-tank, saying that talks on the plan with the country's neighbours were already underway.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Iraq, still very unstable itself, hopes to be a stabilising force in the region (Photo: Jan Oberg)

Mr al-Dabbagh said there was "great interest" in the project, according to AFP.

Informal discussions on "Regional Economic Partnership" have reportedly been launched with Kuwait, Syria and Turkey, though not yet Iran. The aim would also to be to bring on board Jordan and Saudi Arabia and - in a subsequent phase - the Gulf states of Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, but not Israel.

The proposed bloc would look to lower trade barriers and develop joint economic projects, as well as sharing water resources and electricity. Resolving border disputes and common perspectives on combating militant extremism would also be on the agenda.

Iraq's plan, a"vision" of Mr al-Dabbagh's government, would also aim to improve oil and gas transit and construct roads between the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean.

"The new Iraq could convert the region into the EU model," the UK's Daily Telegraph quotes the Iraqi official as saying at the meeting. "Iraq is going to play a major stabilising factor," he added.

Iraq sees a "necessity for regional security and economic co-operation," Mr al-Dabbagh said.

The proposal is the latest in a long line of regional groupings modelled on the European Union.

The African Union, a confederation of 53 African states was established in 2002, growing out of the earlier Organisation of African Unity. The grouping is still at the very earliest stages of approaching anything like the EU's level of joint governance and integration.

The Union of South American Nations, or Unasur (Unasol in Portuguese and Unasul in Dutch) is an intergovernmental union founded in May this year and integrates two existing customs unions: Mercosur and the Andean Community. It too is still undergoing its birth pangs.

EU leaders to discuss vaccine certificates

While some member states hope vaccine certificates could revive tourism, EU officials point out that it is not clear if vaccinated people can still carry the virus and infect others.

Dutch government resigns two months before election

The four parties of the Dutch government, lead by prime minister Mark Rutte, have decided to let the government fall. On 17 March, two months from now, there are parliamentary elections in the Netherlands.

Italy government totters ahead of €200bn EU covid relief

Just in time to be all over the Italian evening news on Wednesday night, Matteo Renzi withdrew the two ministers of his small party, Italia Viva - making official the political crisis of the Giuseppe Conte government.

News in Brief

  1. AstraZeneca told to meet EU vaccine supply commitments
  2. Estonia to get first woman prime minister
  3. Turkey and Greece to hold Mediterranean security talks
  4. Dutch police detain 240 in anti-lockdown protests
  5. Renewables overtake fossil fuels in EU electricity mix
  6. France's top scientist warns of corona 'emergency'
  7. Growing appetite for Northern Ireland independence
  8. Surge in support for Portuguese far-right party

EU pushes back against rising homophobia

The EU Commission plans a proposal to ensure recognition children-parent relations in cross border situations, and legislation to support the mutual recognition of parenthood between member states.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. Navalny protests sharpen EU sanctions talks
  2. Why Russia politics threaten European security
  3. MEPs call for workers to have 'right to disconnect'
  4. Reality bites EU's 'No More Morias' pledge
  5. Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity
  6. Vaccine delay and Russia sanctions debates This WEEK
  7. Will EU ever take action to stop Israeli settlements?
  8. EU leaders keep open borders, despite new corona variant risk

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us